Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. All characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
Thirteen year old Harry Potter sighed as he cleaned the kitchen counters. He had already cleaned them twice but his Aunt Petunia had insisted it wasn't clean enough. She was always been picky but she was exceptionally so as Uncle Vernon's sister Marge was coming to stay for a few days. Harry hated Aunt Marge. She was just as mean and spiteful as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon and Dudley. He couldn't wait to be done so he could hide upstairs and look through the birthday gifts Hedwig had brought him at midnight. Hermione had given him a broomstick servicing kit and Ron had given him a Sneakoscope that was supposed to light up if someone dodgy was around. Hagrid had sent him an interesting gift. A book called The Monster Book of Monster which had almost bitten his hand off.
Harry finished the counters and then stood back to wait for Aunt Petunia to inspect it. Again. He absentmindedly rubbed his side where Dudley had kicked him after pushing him down yesterday. He was already counting down the days until he could go back to his real home which was Hogwarts. Harry would rather be there cleaning Snape's dungeon with a toothbrush than to be in this house.
Aunt Petunia came up beside him and inspected the sparkling counters. "I suppose this will have to do." She pursed her lips which made Harry always thought made her look like a horse. "The living room could use another once over."
"But I already-"Harry stopped. Really, what was the point? "Fine. I'll go clean the living room. Again."
"Watch your manners boy!" Aunt Petunia glared hatefully at her nephew. "Unless you would like a week with no food? And that will include your annoying owl as well!"
Harry gritted his teeth against all the things he would like to tell his Aunt. He simply nodded and did as she asked. He didn't want to risk going yet another week without food as it seemed every other week he was being punished with barely any food at all. He decided to send Hedwig to the Burrow for the summer. He liked having her with him as she was the only company he had during the summers but he couldn't risk her starving or worse. Uncle Vernon had threatened to shoot her more than once.
Harry pretended to pick up the living room as there was nothing to pick up. He was fluffing the pillows when Uncle Vernon walked in. "All right boy, Marge should be arriving any minute. No freakiness better happen while she is here or else." He narrowed his beady eyes at Harry.
Harry took a deep breath. He had a reason to try and be polite besides not wanting to get hit or starved. Professor McGonagall had sent him a permission slip for Hogsmeade as third years were allowed to go. "I wanted to ask a favor Uncle Vernon. I was given a permission slip for a field trip at Hog- school and I was wondering if you would sign it." Harry wasn't stupid. He knew that in any other scenario his relatives would refuse to sign but as Marge would be here, he figured it was an angle he could work. "If I knew I was going to get to go on the field trip I'm sure it would stop any, um, freaky things from happening."
Uncle Vernon opened his mouth to say no but then thought about it. He really didn't want his sister to know how much of a freak his nephew was. "Fine." He grudgingly said. "If you behave the whole week while Marge is here I will sign your form."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "How do I know you actually will sign it?"
Vernon smiled nastily. "You don't. But it is the best chance you have isn't it?"
That was true. Harry gave a stiff nod. "All right. But she better behave too."
"Listen here you freak. Marge may say and do whatever she wants. Just smile and nod no matter what she says and stay out of the way all right?" Vernon glared at him. The doorbell rang and he gave Harry another glare and then went to answer it.
Harry heard Vernon greeting his sister and closed his eyes. He really hated that woman but it would be worth being civil to her in order to go to Hogsmeade.
"Where's my Dudders? Where's my precious nephew?" Aunt Marge, just as large as her brother, lumbered in the living room. She gave Harry a dirty look. "My bags aren't going to move themselves boy." She gestured towards the porch and then continued calling Dudley.
Harry obediently went and grabbed her bags, dodging Marge's bulldog Ripper whose favorite hobby was biting Harry. He brought the bags in and took them upstairs to the room Marge stayed in when she visited. He went back downstairs and watched Marge fuss over Dudley.
"Look at my Dudley! Such a handsome boy!" Marge cried. Petunia and Vernon smiled proudly at their son, who was so large he didn't walk so much as waddle.
"Hi Aunt Marge. You look as lovely as always." Dudley gave his Aunt a fake smile as he knew she would shower him with gifts.
Petunia looked close to tears. "Isn't he the sweetest thing?"
Harry wanted to gag but kept a neutral expression on his face. He was hoping to get to grab some food and then escape to his bedroom.
Marge handed Dudley a gift bag full of presents and also handed him some money. "For the best nephew in the world." She said fondly. She caught sight of Harry. "Hope you aren't expecting any gifts from me boy."
Harry wanted to tell her he didn't want anything from her ever but simply stayed silent. He ignored Dudley laughing at him.
Petunia clapped her hands together. "We have reservations we don't want to be late for. Marge you will love this restaurant. It is very refined."
"Sounds wonderful Petunia. I will be paying for dinner of course." She glanced over at Harry. "Feed Ripper so that the rest of us can leave." She put a bag down on the coffee table. "If you like, you may share his food." She said with a mean smile. The Dursley's all laughed.
Harry walked into the kitchen to get a bowl for the dog, going over different Quidditch moves in his mind to drown out his relatives. After he fed the dog he saw his Uncle waiting for him. "Hurry up, I'm hungry." He muttered as he huffed his way upstairs to lock Harry in his room. The Dursley's never let him be alone in the house without locking him up. They said they didn't trust him not to ruin their nice things. "Can I have some food?" He asked as he stepped into his room.
"Greedy aren't you?" Uncle Vernon slammed the door shut and bolted all the locks.
Harry looked at Hedwig who was in her cage and shrugged. He did have some food hidden in his room. Mrs. Weasley had sent him a cake for his birthday. He lifted the floorboard and took it out, breaking off a piece for Hedwig. She gobbled it up and he petted her gently. "I'm going to send you to the Burrow for the rest of summer Hedwig." He said softly. She looked at him reproachfully and hooted. Harry shook his head. "It will be safer for you there. They'll feed you and you won't have to stay in your cage all day. I'll be fine." He assured her.
Thankfully the bars were off of his window. Uncle Vernon had said there was no use to pay for the bars when some flying car would just come and tear them off. He wrote a note for Ron and tied it to Hedwig's leg. He sent her off and watched her fly off into the night sky. He wished he could fly with her.
Harry did fairly well of staying out of Marge's way the next few days. He made the food and did his usual chores which was pretty much everything and endured the cruel jokes made at his expense. He said nothing when Ripper bit his leg so hard it bled and kept quiet when Dudley punched him in his still sore side.
It all paid off when Harry was cooking the last meal for Marge Dursley. She was leaving early the next morning and then Harry could finally get his permission slip signed.
"I really have to admire you Petunia." Marge said as the Dursley's ate their dinner while Harry cleaned up the kitchen from making everyone dinner. He managed to scarf down some bread while they ate in case he didn't get any leftovers.
"Taking in your pathetic sister's child the way you did." Marge shook her head, her multiple chins wobbling. "I would have drowned the little brat if it were me."
"Yes, well." Petunia threw a look to Harry and then Vernon. "It was the right thing to do."
"It's just who we are." Vernon added.
Marge poured herself another glass of brandy. "You two are such good people. Especially knowing the boy's history with having parents like his."
Harry looked up from his cleaning and narrowed his eyes at Marge. He could take insults against himself but not at his parents.
"Would you like more casserole Marge?" Vernon asked hastily. He didn't want to risk one of the boy's episodes.
"Just a bit Vernon." Marge answered with a chuckle. "I have to keep watch of what I eat."
Harry couldn't help snorting at that as he returned to washing the pans.
Marge threw him a glance. "Did you say something boy?"
"No Aunt Marge." Harry responded.
"I don't like your tone boy. Do they not beat you hard enough at that school you go to? What school is it again Vernon?" Marge poured herself yet another glass of brandy.
"St. Brutus's Secure Centre for hopeless cases Marge." Vernon said with a glare in Harry's direction as if warning the boy not to contradict him.
"Make sure to let that school know you don't mind if brute force is used to control the whelp." Marge nodded. "It's all you can do for a boy like that. He will probably end up like his parents anyway. An out of work drunk."
"My parents were not out of work drunks!" Harry said loudly. They died protecting him; he would not let her talk about them like that.
Marge grinned, her face red from all the alcohol she had been drinking. "Proud of you loser parents are you boy? The world is a better place without people like that! Especially your mother from what Petunia has told me. Was she even sure her husband was the boy's father Petunia?" Marge chuckled. "They got themselves killed and should have had you with them when they did I say!"
"Shut up!" Harry yelled as his temper fully loose now. How dare she? How dare she imply that about his mother!
"Don't you talk to me like that you-"She broke off as she noticed her hand getting bigger. And bigger. She looked down and noticed her body was doing the same thing.
"Marge?" Petunia watched in shock as her sister-in-law began inflating.
Vernon turned to Harry. "Set her to rights! Now!"
Harry was shaking, he was so angry. He didn't even know how he had done that to Marge, but he didn't care. She had been way out of line!
Ripper began barking as Marge began to float out of her chair like a hot air balloon and Dudley took a break from stuffing his face to watch in horror as his Aunt floated out through the sliding doors.
"Marge come back!" Vernon ran after his sister and tried to grab her hand as she floated up into the sky. When he began to rise up with her he let go and could only watch as she shrieked as she rose higher and higher.
Vernon raced back into the kitchen. "Fix her boy or I'll kill you!"
Harry had no idea how to fix her even if he wanted to. All he knew was that he had had enough. He ran to his room and quickly packed. His trunk was in his cupboard so he went downstairs and got it out. He had known how to pick the cheap lock on the cupboard for awhile now. He headed towards the front door.
"Fix her!" Vernon stomped up to him and without warning backhanded him.
Harry steadied himself and took out his wand and pointed it straight between his Uncle's eyes. "Don't test me anymore. I have nothing to lose now." He said calmly.
Vernon's eyes widened and he took a step back. "Fine. Get out."
"Happily." Harry lugged his trunk, duffel bag and Hedwig's cage outside and didn't stop moving until he got to the corner. He looked up and could see Marge still rolling through the evening sky.
Harry didn't know what to do. He didn't have Hedwig so he couldn't send a letter asking for help. He had no friends here. He supposed he could go to Mrs. Figgs house. She seemed to like him well enough and then he could figure out what to do. Before he could start walking he heard a loud bark. He looked across the street and saw a huge black dog staring at him. He really didn't want another dog bite so he waved his wand around hoping to scare it. "Go away!"
A loud noise caught his attention as a triple-decker purple bus suddenly popped onto the street. Harry stumbled back from shock and fell over his trunk.
A guy looking to be in his early twenties stepped out of the bus. "Good evening! Welcome to the Knight Bus, the best transport for the stranded witch or wizard. The name is Stan Shunpike and I am your conductor this evening. We can take you anywhere you want to go except nothing underwater!" He looked down at Harry in confusion. "What are you doing down there?"
"I fell." Harry said as he got back up.
Stan looked at him curiously. "What did you fall down for?"
"It's not like I did it on purpose!" Harry said as he brushed himself off. He looked across the street and saw that the dog was gone.
"What's your name again?" Stan asked as he looked at him curiously.
"Uh, Neville." Harry blurted out as he brushed his fringe down over his scar. He hated how people reacted when they found out who he was. It was ridicules to be famous for something he couldn't even remember.
"Well Neville, where would you like a ride to? You did summon us." Stan said.
Harry was surprised. "I did? How did I do that?"
Stan looked exasperated. "You flung your wand out of course! Now do you want a ride or not?"
"Yes, I do." Harry thought quickly. "Um, the Leaky Cauldron." He had some money on him and could probably afford a room for a night or two until he could get a hold of the Weasley's. He wondered if he could live with them as he was sure to be expelled.
Harry boarded the bus and was shocked to see cots in it. There were a few people sleeping and luggage was simply strewn all over. Harry took a seat on a cot up front and set his luggage beside him. He ended up hugging his luggage as the bus drove very fast and jerky. Thinking he might be sick he shut his eyes.
"Here we are!" Stan announced a few minutes later.
Harry opened his eyes and hurried off the bus. He was about to thank Stan when a familiar looking man came up to him. He remembered him as the minister of magic who had arrested Hagrid despite Hagrid being innocent.
"There you are!" The man said in relief. "Well, Mr. Potter you gave us quite a fright!"
"I thought you said your name was Neville." Stan protested. He looked at the driver. "Hear that Ernie? We gave a ride to the Harry Potter!"
"Yes yes. Mr. Potter I am Cornelius Fudge Minister of Magic. I just want to assure you that your Aunt has been put back right and her memory modified. No harm done." Fudge said jovially. "You are free to return home now."
Harry's mouth dropped open. "What? I'm not going back!"
Fudge frowned. "If you are worried about your relative's being mad I have already been in touch with Albus Dumbledore and he sent me a note for you to give to them." He handed Harry the letter. "What happened to your face?"
Harry was about to say the usual, that he fell, but decided to be truthful. He didn't want to think about what would happen to him if he went back. Since he obviously wasn't being expelled he couldn't' risk doing magic again therefore he couldn't defend himself. "My uncle is what happened."
Fudge looked surprised but then his face relaxed. "Well, nothing wrong with having strict guardians is there? Your Uncle was understandably upset, I'm sure. You are safe at your home Mr. Potter and I am sure your relative's just want to make sure you make better decisions. There is an escaped murderer on the loose after all."
That distracted Harry from protesting to the rubbish Fudge had been spewing about his relatives. "The only escaped murderer I've heard of was on the muggle news. Sirius Black, I think."
Fudge looked uncomfortable. "He's actually a wizard though muggles should be aware of him too. Very dangerous. You best get back home now."
Harry shook his head. "You don't understand how it is there-"
"Now Mr. Potter you should feel very lucky that you are not being punished for using magic. Try not to do that again, you've put your guardians through a lot tonight. My suggestion is to apologize, give them the Headmaster's letter and accept whatever punishment they may give you." He looked at the conductor who had been watching in fascination. "Stan, take him back to where you found him."
Before Harry could try and protest again Stan had grabbed his luggage and put it back in the bus. Harry looked at Fudge who was looking at his watch impatiently and decided it wasn't worth trying to argue. He had told the truth about how he was treated at the Dursley's and just like the one time he had told someone as a child, no one cared. The same had happened when he had tried to hint to Dumbledore exactly why he wished to stay at Hogwarts during the summer. Harry had then been told about the blood wards and how important they supposedly were. Feeling incredibly nervous at what would await him at the Dursley's; he thanked the minister and got back on the bus. He was going back and could only hope he would survive it.